Ninh Binh and Halong Bay
Ninh Binh and Halong bay are two cities that are themselves of very limited interest, at least until you look beyond their city limits and peer up at the limestone spikes that poke suddenly out of the surrounding landscape. At Ninh Binh most of the vistas are taken in on foot (except for the lovely little rowboat excursion down the Tam Coc river); while in Halong Bay these same peaks become islands stabbing out of the South China Sea, which is a great excuse for yet another boat ride.
Visiting a region solely to observe a spectacular view isn’t really the best time for a dense system of cloud and fog to settle in, but unfortunately these things are far beyond my control. After watching the pea soup fog consume the horizon and basically everything more than a few hundred feet away, my plan to spend several days and nights touring around these magical islands quickly changed to a couple hours putting around the foggy bay. At least the postcards looked nice